By Tshepo Leroy Dube

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Collaboration in the Business Sector

The meaning of collaboration is to work jointly on an activity or project with the intention of reaching a certain goal. This is one important factor for business. Most start-up companies fear the idea of collaborating, because they fear the image of their business will be tarnished leading to their profits dropping. Most small businesses cringe at the thought of collaborating with a company trying to reach the same objective/s as them.  The fear of being out of business, fear of risk taking can sometimes be the downfall of your company. Such thoughts are a state i like to call “defensive mode”, where companies start to compete. Most reasons why some start-up companies don’t make it past five years is truly because the passion, vision and timing of why they started their business goes out the window when they try do everything alone, with hopes that no one takes claim of their success and so forth. Similar businesses start to look like threats so you compete and start to lose the reason why you started your business and what makes you different.

However collaborating with someone or a company to achieve the same goal, shortens the time frame of your goal being reached earlier. The reason being, it is no longer just you doing all the work. You are now able to trade with other people information and learn some of the things that you couldn’t have learnt alone and through this process, new projects are born for you to immerse yourself in. More valuable hours are put into your craft, with the help of a team that understands your mission. The approach of collaborating can be elementary if you ask very specific questions that have to do with you and your company. For example: what do I gain from working with them? How does my company benefit from this? How can we best work together? Why do I need to work with them? What value do I bring to the table oppose to the value I gain from collaborating?.

“What value do I bring to the table oppose to the value I gain from collaborating.”

To dissect this a little further, once you understand your value and the value of your company, it becomes easier for you to position yourself in places that make you understand what you have and lack (finding your niche). When you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your company. The process of projecting, what it will take for you to achieve or grow your company to its full potential, begins. The next step is then to position yourself with companies (networks) that have what you need. Which places you in a position to make collaborative decisions to benefit you and your collaborative partner/s. For example take a company that designs and manufactures tables for a living. The company may be doing well financially but until that company takes the approach to collaborate with a “chair company”, their sale may never grow as much as they want it to. The value of a chair company is the ability to now have a complete set to sell (table/desk & chair) from this you could split the profits and keep your individual profits from your original work separate. This makes each product viewed from collaborative aspect and individual aspect. The amount of time it would take you to start up and build a story line for your new chair line and “perfect it” to the desires of your clients, is shortened by collaborating. you not only get their experience from selling chairs. You have first-hand experience, their data base and  the time frame of getting your new products ready for market is far simpler as you both have the capabilities of making individual products on time then collaborative products should then be easier and faster to process.

You access their database to create a bigger database you both have a new target audience

Most of the time new companies who choose to compete find themselves losing the direction of where they originally wanted to take their business, because their vision is now blurred by wanting to be ahead of their competitors by seeing what they are doing and trying to produce a better product. By doing this you are not only closing your companies innovative potential you also tend to start forgetting about your clients needs and wants. You completely tarnish the reason why you started your company and everything starts to feel like a drag and your lack of passion starts to be seen by your staff and clients and that case your company starts to lose its value and next thing you know you have lost your company and your drive. When you could have avoided everything by looking at what your value is …and what you have to offer and how you plan to offer it without losing sight of why you started your business and why customers trust you.

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